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Ceremony to remember the fallen atop Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

Posted at 5:39 PM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 20:39:31-04

La Jolla, Calif. (KGTV)- A large crowd gathered to honor fallen service members during a Memorial Day ceremony atop Mt. Soledad Monday.

Veterans, families, and local leaders gathered to pay tribute to those who served our country, but never made it home.

A handful of the greatest generation was also in the audience and recognized for their service.

World War II veteran Richard Canfield said he's thinking of others on this day.

"Think we should recognize people who didn't make it back, and this is one way to do it," said Canfield.

This year's ceremony was dedicated to Air Force Airman First Class William Pitsenbarger.

Pitsenbarger was killed in Vietnam in 1966 while saving dozens of American soldiers. His heroic story is showcased in the 2020 movie "The Last Full Measure."

Director Todd Robinson addressed the crowd about why he thought it was so important to tell Pitsenbarger's story.

"Many thought in those moments that if a stranger was willing to fight for them, an Air Force guy with everything to lose, they might see their way through another minute," said Robinson.

Robinson said Pitsenbarger didn't just deliver help; he brought hope.

"As one member of Charlie company later said every one of us would have gotten out of there if we could, and the one guy who could didn't, he chose to stay with us, and that meant everything," said Robinson.

Pitsenbarger was awarded the Medal of Honor nearly thirty years after his death.